In today’s society, there are fewer educational concerns at the top of parents’ minds than school safety. Whether it’s knowing that a school has an established emergency plan in place, or a security system that keeps an eye on their child, most parents want to rest easy knowing their children are safe once they’ve been dropped off for the day.

That’s why it’s so critical that school administrators ask the right questions when evaluating campus security and surveillance options. Here are three questions administrators should ask about any modern day security solution before allocating budget.

Is the system intuitive and user-friendly – will my staff have an easy time with it?

This question can be fairly polarizing as, depending on how tech-savvy you are, “intuitive” can mean different things. If you’re familiar with setting up hardware and software, it can simply mean your product has a clean interface. If you’re not as adept, you might be thinking of something that is both easy to set up and efficient to use. Luckily, with the variety of offerings available on the market, there’s never been a better time to find a school security system that qualifies as intuitive.

Many current products have adopted a “plug and play” model. For such systems, all end-users have to do is set up the camera hardware to get a video feed. Since a fair amount of current security systems are cloud hybrids, there’s no need to invest the extra funding in onsite servers, NVRs, or DVRs, as footage is typically stored in both the cloud as well as on the local hardware of the camera unit itself.

Is the system intelligent – will it help provide coverage when my staff can’t?

When considering how “intelligent” a security system is, administrators should have a comprehensive list of its features and check them for a few key metrics. Is the system able to flag video that meets certain parameters and send out alerts in the event of an emergency? Are authorized personnel immediately notified if a camera goes down or has been tampered with? Do the cameras use intuitive motion tracking instead of simply recording static video?

Artificial intelligence (AI) also plays a crucial role in a system’s functionality. Once considered a fun sci-fi concept and nothing more, AI has found itself at the forefront of technological advancement. In fact, many modern school security systems rely on AI-driven software to accomplish their primary goals, including taking a proactive stance against any immediate threats or alarming situations.

Does the system scale – if it works in one building or campus can it easily be added to more?

Perhaps the most critical aspect security departments must weigh out when considering the implementation of a new system is its cost. Depending on the provider, you may be looking at prohibitively high per-camera costs that make units difficult to employ across campus. Plus, if you’ve chosen a system that relies on costly infrastructure, you’re going to have to discuss when the right time is to either upgrade the current solution or expand it to a second location. Both of these options will need substantially-high funding.

Since many school districts deal with a bevy of funding issues as is, it’s important to make sure that whatever your chosen solution may be, it can scale alongside your needs. This means you need to look for a lower per-camera cost that doesn’t require greater investments to integrate into a central connection. Focus your efforts on finding a system that covers both the hardware and software aspects of security, as this will help in not having to pay for two independent systems that need to be compatible for use together.

Safety first

School security is a sensitive issue for many, especially when money gets involved. That’s part of what makes finding an appropriate middle ground between affordability and effectiveness such a crucial effort. Your decisions need to be swayed by safety first and finance second.

Luckily, many modern school security systems hybridize considerations of both efficacy and economy and make choosing an efficient yet affordable solution quite possible— as long as security teams ask the right questions and know what the right answers are.